Flamin’ Hot Review: Hilarious Tricks From a Cheetos Movie

Capitalism is like a Cheeto: highly processed, dependent on a lot of low-paid labor, tasty but no food, leaving a Lady Macbeth-like residue on the fingers of every snacking participant. It is that interesting excess, the stain of its lingering remains, that is perhaps the most interesting thing about the metaphor. Something remains after each transaction, a fine powder of profit and discomfort. It’s a bit of reality after falling into fantasy; the food particles seem to ask, ‘Where did these Cheetos come from? How much gas was burned to get them to the mouth? Who benefited from them? Who actually made them, how much did they get paid for their work, and how are they doing?

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Or just wash your hands and forget about it. Take a look inside the bag before the next bite with flamin’ hot, a vibrant new film meant to inspire and uplift. The film joins recent titles such as Air, Tetris, and Blackberry (not to mention House of Gucci, Ford v. Ferrari, and others), all of which offer unusual biopics of products and brands, be it shoes, games or phones. Of course, they’re Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in this new movie, the first feature directed by Eva Longoria.

Longoria and a great cast help flamin’ hot Stand out from the rest of the package (or bundle, in this case) by focusing less on the products and more on the people. This is a whimsical biopic of Richard Montañez and his wife Judy, meant to be a celebration of their Mexican culture and working-class values, and not a corny Frito-Lay product placement feature film.

However, as a result, there’s almost something even more ambivalent in the film, but we’ll get to that. For most people, flamin’ hot It’ll make a delicious snack: feel-good fun with a little cheese and little nutrition, but enjoyable nonetheless. This marks the end of our food puns, so on to the main course (woops).


A colorful and comfortable story of Underdog

Flamin Hot with Jesse Garcia and Dennis Haysbert
flamin’ hot it has an almost immediate comforting vibe, in that everything is familiar but very well done, and each character is charming enough to deserve your attention. There are all the familiar, cheesy tropes (a flashback voiceover, little POV fantasy sequences, the wrestling and fighting followed by inevitable success), but Longoria’s directing is colorful and efficient. She cuts to the chase, traversing years of time in playful ways that never feel disorienting. The whole movie feels fun and fast-paced, but it’s also grounded in Jesse’s emotional headspace.

Richard Montañez grew up without much in life besides a good mother. Ostracized at school, he learned to survive in creative and profitable ways, as if he had been born a small entrepreneur. He knew how to rush, moving from burrito capitalism (selling his mother’s wonderful cooking to white children whose minds were blown by the flavors) to robbery and gang life, personifying the school-to-prison pipeline developed by systemic injustice. (and capitalism, but wait, we’re getting there).

Jesse Garcia shines among a great cast

Eventually, Montañez wanted to become respectable and a citizen. He raised a family with his lovely wife Judy (a lovely but underutilized Annie Gonzalez) and went to work as a custodian at the Frito-Lay plant. He has an infectious curiosity and interest in how the plant works and the people who are there, and Jesse Garcia’s performance is award-winning. He is genuine and sweet in an unsentimental way, with a working-class puppy energy and stamina. Garcia is impossible to resist, and makes Richard worth perpetually rooting for.

Once at the Frito-Lay factory, Montañez meets and gradually befriends Clarence (the great Dennis Haysbert), an intimidating but ultimately kind man and a brilliant engineer. While Montañez is Mexican-American and Clarence is African-American, they both exist in that script, where so much of society relegates people (especially in the ’80s and ’90s when the movie primarily takes place). They come together and help each other grow when none of the top managers will promote them or listen to their ideas.

Judy also helps Richard grow. Together, they come up with a recipe for the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto, and Richard navigates the system to catch the eye of PepsiCo CEO Roger Enrico (Tony Shalhoub). Interestingly, Enrico later became president of animation at DreamWorks – at the top, most things look the same.

Is Flamin’ Hot based on a true story?

Flamin Hot Cast

Rounding out the cast is comedy legend Matt Walsh (no, no that Matt Walsh) and an excellent cast of Mexican-American actors, including Emilio Rivera, Pepe Serna, Bobby Soto and Jimmy González. Everybody does it right in flamin’ hotthough it’s certainly Garcia’s show, because the film is essentially filtered through his perspective. For example, while flamin’ hot may be promoted as a true story by some, and Montañez has certainly told the story the way it is presented in this film, there are some reports that contradict the reality of the film.

Make no mistake, Montañez actually started out as a custodian at Frito-Lay and worked his way up to a top executive position, having stayed with the company for more than four decades, but it’s highly doubtful that he invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. This was originally reported by The LA Times two years ago; as journalist Sam Dean wrote, “Montañez went from rags to riches, from factory to corporate suite. He just didn’t make Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.” Far from Richard’s California community, it was apparently a junior employee named Lynne Greenfeld in Plano, Texas who developed the product. Vanity Fair recently followed up in an article titled, “Flamin’ Hot Scam: The Creator of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? sold a Lie?”

Honestly, for most people, this will probably be a bit of a piece of information, as they’ll get inspired however they can. groundhog day It’s not based on a true story, but it still inspires change and can make someone want to be a better person. In fact, it is the idea that flamin’ hot it’s literally a POV piece, with the story subjectivized through Montañez’s exaggerated memory, which makes the film all the more riveting.

From the perspective of fantasy capitalism

Flamin' Hot by Eva Longoria
reflector photos

“This is 1000% the truth about Richard Montañez, and he was very involved,” Eva Longoria explained to MovieWeb. “The moment I sat down with him, I thought, I want the movie to be in his point of view. It has to be from his point of view. I want to be in his mind (…) And that’s probably what he does. What makes the movie more entertaining is that we’re in Richard’s head 100% of the time.” While the math doesn’t add up, it’s clear this isn’t meant to be a wholly accurate depiction of capitalism, but rather a cinematic, easily digestible part of it. And that’s what’s really interesting: the film reveals that to tell an inspiring story under capitalism, you have to present a hidden fiction.

As mentioned, flamin’ hot is a biographical comedy about an individual and his family and community, and the actual product and corporation is more like the setting in which the story is told. The other ‘product movies’ can be a bit dramatizing, but they are basically based on true stories. Here, the product has to be a supporting character, the narrative has to be tacitly fictional, and the story has to celebrate family and immigrant culture for the film to successfully promote the fundamental lie of our economy: You can do it! Even if the odds are against you, the government doesn’t care, and society rejects you as a ‘foreigner’, an ‘illegal’, you can still make it! Just work hard, you will make it!

Of course, we know that this is false. “The top 10% of households own 76% of all wealth in the US, while the bottom 50% of households own just 1% of all wealth,” according to the Consumer Finance Survey from the Federal Reserve (as reported by Finance Buzz). The myth of meritocracy convinces the working class that if they study and work hard enough, they can succeed and join the elite 10%.

The spicy meaning of Flamin’ Hot

In reality, random chance is the only friend of the working class, because the main cause of economic success is simply predetermined (your family’s bank accounts and what property they own, where you were born, etc.). flamin’ hot he flirts with union solidarity, people power, and class consciousness, mostly in Richard and Clarence’s friendship, but barely. While the film may appeal to liberals with its story of working-class Mexican-American rising above racism and heading to the top of corporate America, the fantasy of flamin’ hot it’s ultimately conservative: traditional family, meritocracy, a kind CEO who recognizes hard work, a happy ending.

Therefore, there are two readings of flamin’ hot, both with a bit of cinematic subterfuge. You can wash the Cheeto powder off your fingers. Most people will buy into the fantasy and see this as a colourful, funny and uplifting movie about the success of an underdog and as a result will be sold the lie of capitalism and associate corporations with happy working families, all Citizens United.

Some viewers, however, may choose to study the orange junk food particles coating their fingers and open their eyes to something else. Some people can see through the fantasy and recognize the film’s altered artifice and its raunchier interpretation: to be inspired and encouraged by our economic system is delusional, to live in a hyperbolic fantasy of someone else’s design. In reality, the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment does not coincide with capital, and in order to feel good in this world, you have to believe in hot fiction. At least until the revolution, or the collapse. In the meantime, we can choose how to interpret the world and decide what to do with our own stained hands.

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